July 14, 2024


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Shopper News brings you the latest happenings in your community


Rotary Club and KCDC open their second Little Free Library

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News

Members of the Rotary Club of Knoxville recently opened their newest Little Free Library in association with Knoxville Community Development Corporation, their second since the placement at KCDC’s Western Heights housing site. Now residents of The Vista at Summit Hill — over 40% of whom are children — have access to books to read, enjoy, study and share.  

Ginny Weatherstone, chair of the Literacy Committee, which spearheaded the project, said, “Everyone on the Literacy Committee is so passionate about the fact that things change when there are books in a home — when children can have access to the books, to read them, to hold them, when parents can read to their children. And books are not always easy to come by.”

“The Two Ginnies” -- Rotarians Weatherstone and Morrow -- proudly flank the latest Little Free Library in association with KCDC. Feb. 15, 2022

The initial book drive brought in over 1,000 donations. “This is the first LFL we have done where one shelf is all children and middle school books and the top shelf is adult. We have been hearing that they want cookbooks and parenting books, so that’s what we had in mind when we were collecting,” Weatherstone said.

Cutting the ribbon for the Rotary Club of Knoxville’s latest Little Free Library in association with KCDC are (l-r) Ben Bentley, KCDC executive director; Linda Jeter, KCDC property manager for The Vista at Summit Hill; and Rotary Club of Knoxville members Ginny Morrow, president; Ginny Weatherstone, leader of the  Literacy Committee, and Literacy Committee members Eric Lutton, Knoxville Public Defender; Chemain Kellogg, sales director for Visit Knoxville; and Kim Isenberg of Realty Executives. Feb. 15, 2022

Eric Lutton, Knox County Public Defender and Literacy Committee member, says that reading skills are ideally established in the first three years of a child’s education, and that literacy is critical to helping communities grow. “If you don’t develop those skills, you can’t learn the other stuff later on. I think making sure the kids have access to books allows them to develop some of those skills.

“Often, if a child is called on to read aloud in school, it’s embarrassing for them if they’re behind, and that makes them get further behind. So having books in the home allows them to practice.”

The Little Free Library at The Vista at Summit Hill was painted in a sophisticated style by Cassandra Knight. Feb. 15, 2022

“The whole idea of community is embedded and represented in this little library,” said KCDC Executive Director Ben Bentley. “Somebody needs a book that can’t normally have one, and by the same token, once you’re done with your book, or if you have the ability to give one to somebody else, you can make that donation.

“And books are fun! My wife is a teacher. In our house we always have books for our children in order to captivate their learning and let them grow. This is just one way to do that in our community.” 

A plaque invites residents of The Vista at Summit Hill to make good use of the Little Free Library. Feb. 15, 2022

The Rotary Club plans to restock the Little Free Library every two weeks, and Rotary member Ginny Morrow said she hopes that The Vista readers will find some lifelong favorites. 

“My challenge is: love that book so much that you keep it, and make the Rotarians be busy coming back to restock this little library!”

Rotary Club of Knoxville Literacy Committee members Ginny Weatherstone, Eric Lutton and Chemain Kellogg are all smiles at the opening of the latest Little Free Library in association with KCDC. Feb. 15, 2022

If you’d like to donate books, email Ginny Weatherstone at ginny.wstone@gmail.com, or drop them off at the front desk of the Crowne Plaza in downtown Knoxville, stating that they are for the Rotary Club.


Gibbs Middle’s ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ is a blast from the past 

Ali James, Shopper News

This year’s Gibbs Middle School musical should come with a warning. “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” is full of earworms, catchy tunes that will transport the audience back to their school days with lessons in multiplication, adjectives, history and government.

“My guess is that the majority of the audience grew up watching ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ on Saturday mornings,” said Alison Werner, Gibbs Middle School choral director. “A little teaser is that there will be ‘Conjunction Junction’ and ‘I’m Just a Bill.’”

Jackson Weaver, as Franklin plays the saxophone during rehearsal of “in Schoolhouse Rock Live!” at Gibbs Middle School on Feb. 15, 2022.

Werner said “Interjections’’ is one of her favorites. “That is the one where the kids sing ‘Or frightened (Eeeeeek!) or mad (Rats!)’,” she said. “Now they say ‘rats’ instead of rude words, all of the time.”

“Schoolhouse Rocks Live!” exposes the students to a whole new culture, according to Werner. “I have gotten to talk about things we are learning, and the whole reason I chose this show is that our kids haven’t learned this stuff,” she said. “Maybe this will help bridge the gap, where they lost their learning (during the pandemic).”

Kaitlyn Carroll, left, plays nervous schoolteacher Tori Mizer and Hannah Sharp plays Dori, one of the alter egos in “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” Performances will be held at 7 p.m. on March 3, 4 and 5 in the Gibbs Middle School auditorium. Feb. 15, 2022.

The eighth graders were in the sixth grade when they performed “The Wizard of Oz” for just one night on March 12, 2020. When schools shut down on March 13, they were forced to cancel the remaining two performances. There were no musicals or after-school program last year.

“To be in the show you have to audition. Depending on their audition, they were given a part. You have to invest a little to be a part of the musical,” said Werner.

The full cast of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” proudly wore their new show T-shirts for an after-school rehearsal on Feb. 15, 2022 in the Gibbs Middle Auditorium.

The cast has been practicing since auditions were held the week after fall break. “We had to watch some episodes in class,” said Hannah Sharp, who plays Dori. “I rehearse at home a lot. I’m part of the Eagle Ensemble and we haven’t been able to perform at the airport and nursing homes. We did get to sing Christmas carols at the City County Building, though.”

Kaitlyn Carroll, left, plays nervous schoolteacher Tori Mizer and Hannah Sharp plays Dori, one of the alter egos in “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” during rehearsal at Gibbs Middle School on Feb. 15, 2022.

Kaitlyn Carroll, who plays Tori, said the show’s “Three is a Magic Number” has become a ‘Rick Roll’ among her castmates. Rickrolling is a prank that started as an internet meme involving the unexpected appearance of Rick Astley’s 1987 song, “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

Kaitlyn Carroll, left, plays nervous schoolteacher Tori Mizer and Hannah Sharp plays Dori, one of the alter egos in “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” during rehearsal at Gibbs Middle School on Feb. 15, 2022.

The quick-paced show is mostly songs, with just a few lines.

“I have taught for almost 20 years and done a musical just about every year,” said Werner. “This is about the only one where I have the whole cast of 28 on stage the whole time. It is high energy all of the time. I like the idea of them all being on stage and getting to be a part of it, it’s fun for me and the kids.”

The cast of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” does an after-school rehearsal on Feb. 15, 2022 in the Gibbs Middle Auditorium.

“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” performances will be at 7 p.m. on March 3, 4 and 5 in the Gibbs Middle School auditorium. Tickets will cost $5 for students and $10 for adults and are available online at https://search.seatyourself.biz/webstore/accounts/gibbsms/buy-tix or via a QR code. Masks will be required for the audience; cast members will be able to take their masks off for the performances.

Alison Werner, Gibbs Middle School chorus teacher, directs the cast during a rehearsal of “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” on Feb. 15, 2022 in the Gibbs Middle Auditorium.

An oversized television will be painted on the backdrop of the “Wizard of Oz” gates that were barely used for the March 2020 musical. The students have simple costumes and cute red backpacks.

“Except for Kaitlyn Carroll, who plays the teacher, Tori Mizer, they all wear jeans and Converse-like shoes so they look like the Schoolhouse Rock kids,” said Werner. “The cast will look like they are on TV.”

Kaitlyn Carroll, left, plays nervous schoolteacher Tori Mizer and Hannah Sharp plays Dori, one of the alter egos in “Schoolhouse Rock Live!” during rehearsal at Gibbs Middle School on Feb. 15, 2022.

Although Gibbs Middle School opened three years ago, they need ticket sales to help with the purchase of stage lights. Werner said they held their best fundraiser in November, but supply chain issues (yet another side effect of the pandemic) meant the cookie dough delivery was seriously delayed.

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Carter High choral director named a Teacher of the Year

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News

Carter High School choral director Daniel Johnson-Webb’s life is filled with music, and that’s just the way he likes it.

Recently he was one of 200 Knox County Schools teachers recognized at the Feb. 8 “Teacher of the Year” banquet presented by FirstBank, Food City, Dollywood and UT Federal Credit Union.

Daniel and Katie Johnson-Webb enjoy an outing at UT Gardens. He was recently named Carter High School Teacher of the Year. Aug. 15, 2021

Johnson-Webb, originally from Moore, Oklahoma, is gifted with a big bass-baritone voice and had plans to make an operatic career, first earning a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at Oklahoma City University. “After that, I was doing apprenticeships with opera companies, and then I got a call to audition for the Baz Luhrmann ‘La Boheme,’ and it turned into a Broadway thing.”

Luhrmann, the Australian writer, director, and producer, wrote and directed the film “Moulin Rouge” and is known for putting his unique stamp on projects spanning film, television, opera, theatre, music and recording industries. His groundbreaking version of the beloved opera, updated from the late 1800s to 1957, opened on Broadway in November 2002. Cast as the philosopher Colline, Johnson-Webb can be heard on the Dreamworks Records original cast recording.

Carter High School choral director Daniel Johnson-Webb, recently named Teacher of the Year, leads the Carter Chorale in a performance at Carson-Newman College. Nov. 5, 2021

“But then,” says Johnson-Webb, “the economy kind of turned.” Carroll Freeman, then director of the UT opera program, invited him to Tennessee.  

“I did a graduate degree at UT, did sporadic engagements. I made Knoxville my base because it’s beautiful and affordable.” Raised Methodist, he joined Church Street United Methodist Church and sang in the choir.

And when Katie Johnson, newly named as associate professor of horn at UT, came to play for the Christmas program, the two hit it off immediately. “We had a coffee date at the Golden Roast that lasted six hours.” 

 At the time, Johnson-Webb was rebounding from a low point. “There was a two-year period I didn’t sing at all. I worked in restaurants, missed doing music all day every day. I got active in the church, which led me to Katie, which led me to teaching.”

Carter High School choral director Daniel Johnson-Webb was named Teacher of the Year. With him is his wife, Katie, UT associate professor of horn, who encouraged him to be a teacher. Feb. 8, 2022

The couple, who live off Strawberry Plains Pike, have been together for nine years, married for five. Johnson-Webb credits his wife with being the one to spot his potential as an educator.

“Just watching him try to explain things — something I don’t understand how to do — he’s so patient,” she says. “I said, ‘you are a teacher at heart because you have patience.’”

 “I had to go back to school for a year and a half to get my licensure,” says Johnson-Webb. “Katie was the one who convinced me  that I could be paid to do music and work with kids. I do like that!”

Carter High School choral director Daniel Johnson-Webb, recently named Teacher of the Year, as a soloist with the Knoxville Handel Society. Nov. 24, 2019

He’s in his fourth year at CHS, having led his students in many outstanding performances including full-fledged productions of “Grease” and “Into the Woods,” and is passionate about music education.

“It makes the complete person. It creates empathy, a bond between kids and everyone. It exercises your whole body and mind.

“As teachers in general we try to adapt to different skill levels. With music, it’s built in. It meets and challenges people where they are, and it nurtures the learner as well.

“Music is the perfect teacher.”

More:Knox County law director, school board share blame for mask lawsuit controversy | Ashe


Hardin Valley resident tells the ‘naked’ truth about turkey hunting

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News

In 2006, Hardin Valley resident Fred Dolislager found his calling … turkey calling. He’s an avid turkey hunter despite his misadventures.

Dolislager kept a log of his experiences in the field and turned it into a book at the urging of his mother. The self-published book, “Turkey Hunting Exposed,” is filled with humorous stories of his misadventures.

Fred Dolislager in his home office in Hardin Valley on Feb. 14, 2022, with Mr. Gobbles, a 22-pound bird bagged nearly 12 years ago.

“It took me 17 years to write the book. It’s not a diary, it’s a log I’ve turned into stories. My wife took the cover photo, which is really the attention grabber. Every single turkey book has a picture of a turkey strutting on the cover, but I wanted to be different. I wanted the cover to be funny because chasing turkeys will put you in crazy situations.”

The photo is of Dolislager sans clothing coyly hiding behind turkey feathers.

Dolislager’s mother, a writer and editor in her own right, liked his log entries and encouraged him to write the book for years.

Fred Dolislager displays his pride and joy, an artisan turkey call made from a turkey wing bone, in his home office in Hardin Valley.
 Feb. 14, 2022.

“She really liked my stories and so did my friends, so I started writing longer and longer logs. Seventeen years later, I have a book.”

Dolislager recounts a story from the book.

“The story I’m probably most proud of is when I took my son, Oops Number One, on his first turkey hunt when he was about 12.

“We were sitting in the blind and nothing was happening. I turned around to face the other way to take a nap. We’re facing each other when he suddenly says ‘Dad, there’s a turkey!’ He doesn’t really know what to do yet so my heart just broke. I could see him moving a little. I asked him how far away was it and he said ‘20 yards away.’

“My heart broke again because that’s too close. You need to see them about 80 yards away and watch them close in. It’s nearly impossible to get a turkey that’s already on top of you because they’ll blow up and fly away.

Fred Dolislager shows off the iridescent feathers of his first turkey in his home office in Hardin Valley Monday, Feb. 14, 2022.

“He raised the gun right past my ear. I dare not move, the turkey would surely see me. Oops said ‘one…two…three’ and it was instant silence. The blast was so loud, my ears just shut off. I couldn’t hear myself talk, I couldn’t hear him talk; but I mouthed the words…’Did you get him?’ Yes, he did! He was the first juvenile to catch a turkey that season.”

Dolislager’s favorite place to turkey hunt is Snake Hollow, Tennessee, where the ridges are close together. “A bird can gobble five miles away and you can still hear it,” said Dolislager.

Turkey hunter Fred Dolislager dons his turkey hunting face in his home office in Hardin Valley Monday, Feb. 14, 2022. He uses the elaborate makeup to blend in with the woods while hunting.

He is writing a children’s book, “Why Did the Turkey Gobble.” It needs to be illustrated and he would like to find a publishing house rather than self-publish.

“Turkey Hunting Exposed” is available on Amazon. Dolislager is having a book signing at The Casual Pint, 10677 Hardin Valley Road, 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 2. Dolislager said he’ll buy a beer for those leaving a five-star review on Amazon.


Worlds collide at wedding

Leslie Snow, Shopper News

A long time ago, when my husband and I were newlyweds living in a dumpy apartment outside Chicago, we had a party. I invited all my college friends who had settled in the area and my husband invited his friends from high school and beyond.

Leslie Snow, News Sentinel columnist.

We had visions of sharing appetizers and childhood stories. We thought there would be board games and lots of laughs. Instead, my college roommate, Julie, got in an argument with one of my husband’s friends and everyone stormed out of our apartment in an angry huff.

It was the worst party I’ve ever attended, let alone hosted. And after that terrible night, my husband vowed never to friend mix again. Ever. And for the most part, we’ve kept that solemn vow.